What Signs Are You Missing?

Baseball’s World Series is coming up—one of my favorite sporting events to watch (not to mention all the games leading up to it). There's a lot that goes on in the course of a baseball game. But there is one aspect of the game that has always fascinated me: signs. During a typical nine-inning game, there are hundreds of taps, touches and tugs, each conveying complex strategies among pitchers, batters, coaches and managers. Some of the greatest all-time players were known for their ability to read their opponents’ signs. Former New York Yankees great Yogi Berra was famous for his ability read the shadows cast by a catcher's fingers.


During a typical customer interaction there are also many signs. But just like in baseball, the signs can be hard to detect.

What are some of the signs you may be missing during customer interactions?

  • Churn signs: Wait for a customer to call and ask to cancel his service, and it will be very difficult if not impossible to change his mind. But this same customer will have undoubtedly given indications of dissatisfaction along the way—maybe he complained about the price, had technical difficulties with his product, or mentioned competitor names.
  • Sales opportunities: Customers may casually mention something that’s not directly related to the issue at hand, but in fact presents a sales opportunity, if identified in the moment.

At this point you might be wondering, how could such golden opportunities slip away? Let’s just say that the agent who can dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s AND pick up on every subtle signal customers give off—she would be the call center equivalent of Yogi Berra! Agents today tend to receive only the tier-two (or more complex) calls, meaning they’re dealing with thorny issues from the start. They may not be authorized to make decisions, such as waiving a fee or making a retention offer. They may not be exceptionally skilled in all areas, becoming awkward, perhaps, when it comes to sales. They may still be absorbing knowledge of new products and services. Maybe it’s just the end of a long day, when any of us wouldn’t be at our best. Or maybe it has to do with the way they listen during interactions—the subject of my next post!

So if we can’t rely on agents to notice them, how can we capitalize on valuable insights? First off, you need real-time speech analytics! It analyzes spoken interactions as they happen, looking for decisive moments. But to really seize them, you need a few additional components:

  • Real-time decisioning engine – Calculates next-best-actions based on real time speech analytics along with additional customer and contextual data
  • Real-time agent guidance – Cues action at the decisive moment
  • Real-time alerts – Notifies supervisors when interactions may need their intervention (Here, consider the recent “Comcast customer service call from hell” that went on for almost 20 minutes. If only a supervisor had been alerted to connect via her mobile device and save the day!)

Sounds good, but want proof? Hear from Sebastian Galletti, Customer Care Manager at Cablevision Argentina, about the impact that real-time speech analytics has had on his business. And remember: The better a customer service agent can pick up on signs in real time the more likely he is to hit a customer service homerun every time. All you need is smart, automated technology to help see the signs.

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